By Danielle Sturgis | February 9 2010 06:51

Dave Nolan of Trinidad State Junior CollegeConsidered the oldest gunsmithing school in the nation, Trinidad State Junior College’s two-year gunsmithing school was established in 1947.

According to the school's website, it immediately attracted capacity enrollment, dominated by veterans of World War II. In its 62 years of existence, the school's program has become respected and supported by many in the industry, including longtime NRA supporter Brownells, Inc.

While at the 2010 Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show last month, NRAblog sat down with Professor of Gunsmithing Dave Nolan to learn a little more about the future of the program.

"Each student chooses whether to pursue an Associate's degree of Applied Science or a Certificate of Gunsmithing," Nolan said, stating that students typically come from across the U.S. to enroll in the program. Nolan is pictured above with colleague Keith Gipson.

While the courses, ranging from Orientation and Firearms Safety to Custom Pistolsmithing, make up the bulk of the program, they are not the true test of a student's ability. A special hands-on experience called the Gunsmithing Cooperative Program "allows them to apply the skills they learn in a real situation, down to the business and financial planning, and working with distributors," Nolan said. "It's the real deal."

Each student must enroll in the 13-week program in order to graduate. Conveniently, the campus houses its own full-scale gunsmithing shop, complete with storefront and real customers. 

If you're interested in gunsmithing but don't have the two years necessary to complete the Certificate course, consider one of the Trinidad State Junior College seminars. "They're one or two weeks long and attract a variety of pupils," Nolan said. Courses are listed here.

Like much of the industry, one type of pupil the gunsmithing program would like to see more of is the female variety.

"Women definitely bring a different dynamic (to the industry)," he said. "Females out there in the shooting sports might feel more comfortable working with a female gunsmith." 


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